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Old 20-01-2016, 12:21   #1
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Help me make lemonade

HI all,

This is a long post. Sorry about that!

It seems we may be getting a few lemons this week and I want to try to make lemonade.
My partner, the significant bread winner, may be laid off work.
We are 49 (me) 53 (him). Our aim was to have everything sold (including the house and cars) somewhere between August and October this year.With savings this would give us boat and outfitting money plus enough for a shoestring budget to see us through until we could draw on 401K. (How about that market eh?L)
Alas, getting laid off now really cuts into the savings end of things. We are only just now debt free (though there is the house payment and support to children) and able to sock away a significant amount towards our goals.Getting laid off will affect our goals in the short term and will mean we need to reassess how we get things done.
Including: he finds a new job and we keep working for a few more years.OR we could go ahead and get a start now, while admitting to ourselves that we may have to go back to work in a few years.
My worry is that he is a software architect and aging out of his profession. A new job that pays the land bills (including support still owed to his ex and one of his children), the house etc. and still leave money for savings wont be easy and may take a significant amount of time that just eats into savings, there by pushing out our dreams and goals even farther.
If we go now, we will have to work in the future. It’s OK for me.My skill set will age well (so to speak) and I should be able to get a job at any age.But a return to a high tech job probably won’t be in the offing for him.
One thought I have had is that we could move to the coast, find a boat and live aboard while working for a while. This might cut our current expenses a little and put us on the water (we are currently in Colorado, where sailing is limited).At least we would be on water and able to sail instead of dreaming about it.
So I guess I am really just looking for encouragement and ideas to keep moving forward. Housing in CO is expensive.Moving to a smaller rental won’t actually cut our expenses any (we researched this!).Moving into a different house is more of lateral move and it seems wiser to keep building equity.But with the new economic pressures, that equity might diminish if we don’t sell soon.
Ideas and encouragement appreciated. If you have something critical / negative to say, please keep it to yourself.
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Old 20-01-2016, 12:41   #2
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Re: Help me make lemonade

I may be real close to a similar situation, except I already have the boat, and am now in a rental house.
If that happens to me, best thing I could do would be to move onto the boat to cut costs, except I have this rental contract. I have never broken one, so I have no idea how hard / expensive that is to do.
From what it sounds like, if possible move to a lower cost living, maybe on the boat if you can work there, but from the sound of it, you need to live where the work is, where ever that is. Better I think to be employed as opposed to un-employed, even if living is more expensive?

Didn't mean to talk myself into a circle, assuming you could both work and live on a boat, then hey, your on a boat, working and saving money.
But moving on a boat and being un-employed isn't a good plan, I don't think


On edit, for the first time in my life, I'm heavily vested in the Stock Market having liquidated most of my other assets, and I'm not comfortable, who knows it's all a gamble?
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Old 20-01-2016, 13:31   #3
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Re: Help me make lemonade

It sounds like a tough choice. I am in sort of a similar position -- a software engineer that is a year older, hoping to leave this year. If I wait a year or two, we would be able to do this easily with no money concerns. If we do it this year -- as we are planning -- there is always the chance that we will have to go back to work, especially if the stock market continues to teeter.

I don't believe you ever age out of software -- my skills are more in demand now than ever before. What does age quickly is your particular skills. So if he is worried about that, there is a solution: use the time on the boat to do a personal - but very professional - project. So create a website using the latest tech. Or create apps for Android or IoS, make them professional and put them out on the app store. Both of these can be done for basically free, and if the boat years on the resume can say "Created my own business doing X using these technologies", there will be no problem coming back later. The demand for software is going up, not down.

If he is worried his specific skills are not holding up, well, that would be a problem whether he quits now or works another 5 years. The shelf life for obsolete skills is shorter than ever.
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Old 20-01-2016, 13:48   #4
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Re: Help me make lemonade

Well, I'm also an aging (47) software engineer, and while it's true that this is a highly competitive, fast-paced industry, I wouldn't throw the towel. In fact I've recently switched to freelancing, first, because of some worrying developments at my previous workplace, and second, because I consider it a more futureproof alternative.

It's not easy. Dealing directly with customers is a completely different story than having a technical job and just doing what management says, but somehow things are getting better (anyway, I'll tell you in a year or so ). In fact, I think that freelancers are in a much better competitive position than established IT shops, as we have a lighter cost structure -and price always matters. Also, you're able to work with much more agility.

Of course, the outcome is unpredictable (is there anything certain nowadays?). Also, there is a limit as to the size of the projects you can tackle. My advice would be to keep and nurture your network (it's people that matters, corporations are just paper!), as most projects come from existing contacts.

I would think twice before recommending leaving a full time job for freelancing, but given the situation, it costs nothing to try... In my experience, the problem has not been lack of work (as I thought), but rather the opposite. And also, choosing the right projects, as some of them turned out to be a waste of time.

Now, the problem is that there is no guarantee of a paycheck, but one gets used to that. And if things keep going more or less well, I'm planning to buy a not-too-expensive day cruiser, but for the moment I'll have to pay for the kids' college and that has priority.
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Old 20-01-2016, 14:09   #5
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Re: Help me make lemonade

Sea Dreaming,

You wrote that you don't want to eat into your savings, and with that in mind, it seems to me that as long as your husband has financial obligations to his former wife and offspring, he should be paying that, so that you avoid the potentially uncomfortable situation of you supporting him and his former family, which may be okay with you, or not, people vary.

Buying a boat that will really suit you as a liveaboard and future cruiser can take a lot longer than can, say, buying a used car. It can be a very time consuming process (it took us 3 years to find this boat), during which time neither of you would be employed --until you could get work-- and you'd be having all your normal expenses, whatever that number is. Once bought, the new-to-you boat will be a money pit, and will have unanticipated costs.

Perhaps, if you can both line up jobs waiting for you on the east coast, this could work in the way you would like it to, but otherwise, it seems to me that the financial ducks need a little more lining up. It would be helpful to know at this point what your husband wants and thinks is possible.

Ann

Just read Bertie68's encouraging post. It reminded me that there used to be a lot of younger cruisers out here who were able to find pick-up jobs to top up their cruising kitties. I do not know how that would work in today's job market, but it has been done.
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Old 20-01-2016, 14:53   #6
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Help me make lemonade

I'm one of those young sailors (not really a cruiser), who resembles Anne's remark. I pick up contract consulting work - mostly in financial analysis and strategy consulting, not IT - in between taking a few months off. It's probably easier today than it was in the past.
For my work, I use a mix of professional contacts, verified consulting networks which have clients lined up and take care of the sell work and client management, and project pitches in response to RFPs. I have a friend who does contract IT who uses similar methods.
As a first step, perhaps while applying to full time jobs, reach out to your networks and see if anyone is hiring on contract and join sites like spare hire or top coder - if applicable.
My experience is that there is a greater demand now for contract work than in the past, people are calling it the future of knowledge work (like IT and financial analysis) which I don't really buy, but it's probably more prevalent than in the past. Lots of these projects now are sold because there's a lack of experience or just a lack of manpower in house and a deadline on the horizon. Sometimes that means working eighty hour weeks for a few months in my experience, but that's sort of like working a year in six months anyways
It's tough, I know, but keep your chin up, throw out some feelers, and good luck! If the independent stuff does stick, having past successful projects is a big help. To get a head start, reach out to your network and line up references bow. Sorry if this is already apparent to you, but just thought I'd chime in.
Thanks to the healthcare act, this is also possible without paying through the nose in medical insurance. In addition, there are tax advantages as well as salary advantages (usually one charges more on contract than on salary to make up for the overhead you take on and the uncertainty of the work). My contract premium is about fifty percent over what my salary would probably be.
One further note, my lifestyle is manageable because all I own right now is my boat, my car, and a 4x6 storage space in a basement. I live out of hotels during the week while on the road, and crash with family and friends, or book an Airbnb somewhere I've never been, on weekends or weeks when I'm not traveling for work. I doubt you'd want to go that far, but asset-light is also something to keep in mind if you're considering casting off anyways, and most everything that I earn basically flows back into the kitty.
It's hell on starting relationships, but you already have a great one


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Old 20-01-2016, 15:37   #7
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Re: Help me make lemonade

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sea Dreaming View Post
...My partner, the significant bread winner, may be laid off work...
We are only just now debt free (though there is the house payment and support to children)...
One thought I have had is that we could move to the coast, find a boat and live aboard while working for a while...
If your husband is out of work, hold off on buying a yacht.
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Old 20-01-2016, 15:45   #8
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Re: Help me make lemonade

Whatever you decide to do, now might be perfect time for your husband to start down a path that's more compatible with remote-based work..? Not sure of the practicalities in his case, but throwing it out there.

I moved aboard from CO and have been doing website dev for a couple years from the boat. In my experience, the tough part is finding the time to sail.. The demand for work only increases as the network continues to build. Anyway, it's certainly a good time to be in IT.

All the best and good luck!
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Old 20-01-2016, 16:01   #9
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Re: Help me make lemonade

HI all
Let me apologize for the weird format. I am at work and unable to use the forum features.
Thank you so much for all the comments, ideas and support. I am happy to report that, at least for now, he seems to have missed this chop.It’s the 3rd of 4th one in the last 3 months!So who knows what the future will bring.The story here is that the CEO oversold growth prospects to 20% or some silly number.The company had more modest gains and made a huge profit, but the Cs are trying to appease investors. From my layman position it looks like a numbers game that will also fail as they axe the talent they need to keep them growing and profitable.
To hblask:
“I don't believe you ever age out of software -- my skills are more in demand now
than ever before. What does age quickly is your particular skills”

My SO feels that his cognitive skills cant keep up. He feels as though he does not think as fast as he once did and is not as smart (his words). He says he can go back to coding but that he has worked too hard to get where he is and coding is far below what he does now.

Honestly, I think he is just worn out. His current company is no joy. Time off would do him good!
He has made a few Android Apps. That might be more attractive when he has a little rest.

To Bertie68:

Consulting is something he has thought about. I am glad to know this is a growing field. Funny enough, I wondered if they would lay off my SO and then ask him back as a consultant. Its how he got the job in the first place!


To Ann T Cate:

Re family support; That’s all built into the long term financial plan. But short term job loses would affect the long term plan, more than the month to month support pay out. I have a kid too…thankfully Ill be done with his support in a few months.

Re boats: We don’t have the kind of budget that will let us look for years. Being in the middle of country we cannot fly back and fourth to look at boats prior to deciding on one. That would cost at least $2,000-5,000 each trip.


Then there is the cost of keeping that boat a couple thousand miles away. Without even being able to work on the boat! That’s a lot out of our cruising kitty! When we do buy, basically it will be to choose a starting area, and make one big trek of it. It’s not the best way to buy a boat. But if we keep to our absolute priorities we should get close. I know a lot of folk would be uncomfortable with that. But it does work for us. Its hard to adequately express the plan. But for us, we will be starting our retirement and this will allow us to move to the coast (any one at this point) and start looking for the boat then.

Honestly, when we “go” what we will really be doing is boat shopping and boat outfitting / repairs. We wont even be close to actually cruising yet! Ha!

This post is inadequate but I am out of time. Thanks again everyone!
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Old 20-01-2016, 16:26   #10
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Re: Help me make lemonade

The only reason I'm still working is be cause its' winter up here and the boat is on the hard. I'm going to be 56 and my wife 55 this year and everyday is harder and harder to get through! I paid off the mortgage a month, which wiped my savings but saved a few months of interest and plan to sell the house in the Spring. That will easily pay off the boat and still have a few years of cash savings left over plus 401ks etc.. So we will be debt free, but maybe not with enough to cruise "forever".

But, the thing is that I have definitely come to the conclusion that I can always get more money, but not more years. And since we will be debt free we don't really need a job as we currently think of them. I can learn to say "welcome to Walmart" just fine.
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Old 20-01-2016, 16:35   #11
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Re: Help me make lemonade

"One thought I have had is that we could move to the coast, find a boat and live aboard while working for a while. This might cut our current expenses a little and put us on the water (we are currently in Colorado, where sailing is limited).At least we would be on water and able to sail instead of dreaming about it."

I think this is one good option. Every problem is an opportunity. Find a job near the water, and go out cruising when you can for now! This gives you time to adujst to living aboard too, and helps you get all the details figured out on your boat... which can take some time for sure. Pretty hard to figure this out if we don't know your full financial picture though. (and we don't want to!)
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Old 20-01-2016, 17:21   #12
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Re: Help me make lemonade

I don't have the answer to your dilemma but I just wanted to say I am very happy that your SO dodged the axe for now. I hope that he is able to continue to the point that you can go out on your own terms.

I echo Ann's sentiments about the boat not necessarily being a "cost saving measure." It might be, but it's also quite possible it won't. She is quite right about boats being potential money pits. Between a boat payment, a slip rent, and all the possible repair/upgrade/maintenance costs that could hit you it might be a little less "controllable" than being in a known situation in a familiar place.

We have had our hand forced to retire and go sooner than we had expected. Our original plan was to retire in 2018. It would have been a good stopping point for us for a lot of reasons, financially and also with family obligations. But due to some very undesirable turns of events for both my husband and myself at work we have decided to go this year. Actually, my husband is being pushed. They've been pushing on him to retire for the past 2 years and he has been pushing back but that has come with consequences and he is tired of the battle. So we have decided to throw in the towel. The for sale sign goes on the house March 1, and as soon as it sells we will bid a not so fond farewell to our employer and be done. Hopefully we will be headed south to the sunshine by fall.

It will leave us with a little less retirement income and a little more initial debt. I will have a hefty health care premium for the first 3 years until I am old enough for Medicare. But our boat is paid for and the income we will have will be adequate for our lifestyle so we are "making lemonade" as you say and focusing on the 2 extra years of cruising we will get out of the deal. It could in fact be a blessing in disguise since none of us knows how many years we have left.

Like Sailorboy said, you can get more money but you can't get more years. Well, at our age I'm not sure about the "more money" thing either, but what the hell. When you gotta go you gotta go.

Best of luck to you both. I very much hope you find the perfect exit strategy and make it all work out in the way that is best for you. And I also hope you make it out there cruising when the time is right.
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Old 20-01-2016, 17:45   #13
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Re: Help me make lemonade

Thanks oldragbaggers, nice to hear from you. Thankfully, our future plans are cash only. No boat payment for us! But we dont want to get into a situation that forces any other option!
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Old 20-01-2016, 21:05   #14
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Re: Help me make lemonade

Sea Dreaming,

If you guys are not so worried about eating into your savings, then go as soon as you can. As said above, you can get more money, but not more years. A huge factor in Jim and my leaving when we did was the sudden death of one of his age cohorts from cancer. We have found cruising to be a pretty healthy lifestyle.

Furthermore, if your hubby is feeling a bit burnt out, working on boat projects, for yourselves, will probably make him feel a lot better. Maybe tired, but sleep well. ;-)

Ann
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Old 20-01-2016, 21:15   #15
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Re: Help me make lemonade

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My worry is that he is a software architect and aging out of his profession. A new job that pays the land bills (including support still owed to his ex and one of his children), the house etc. and still leave money for savings wont be easy
I can't believe that a software guy would have a problem finding work. I have in mind that there are always openings for software guys out there.
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